Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

book coverHardcover: 288 pages 
Publisher: MTV Books
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Source of my copy: author
Series: none
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.
Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

When Jennifer Echols tweeted that she had extra ARC copies of Dirty Little Secret, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a copy. After really liking my first Jennifer Echol novel, Forget You, I was looking forward to reading her newest YA novel Dirty Little Secret. The premise sounded great--dysfunctional sister relationship, a music scene, a cute love interest who plays a guitar? Count me in!

Dirty Little Secret wasn't what I expected but it was still a good read nonetheless. I will explain...

I had a hard time getting into Bailey's character and narration in the beginning. I knew there was more to Bailey's past than what I surmised from the synopsis and I really wanted to know and understand her but I was confused and worried by her odd thoughts and considerations. I had to put down Dirty Little Secret for a couple of days but I was determined to read it through--I felt I had an obligation to finished it since Jennifer very generously sent me a copy. Thankfully, my interest in Dirty Little Secret grew as I kept reading. Bailey's character and story came together and exciting happenings began to unfold. Reading it was no longer an obligation and became something I looked forward to. 

I sympathized with Bailey because of her character's emotional baggage. I liked how full of depth her character was--on the surface Bailey was rebellious and feisty, but deep down she was really self-conscious, lonely, and heartbroken. Despite what I thought was an awkward beginning, I thought Jennifer did a good job conveying Bailey's complex character. As Bailey faced drama and confusion throughout the rest of the book, I rooted for her and stuck by her, hoping and praying with her for a happy ending.

And then there's Sam. Oh my goodness, Sam. 

I couldn't decide whether I liked Sam Hardiman, the love interest, for the majority of the book. When he and Bailey first met, I swooned along with her over his easy attitude and adorable-ness. But then a couple chapters later, I was filled with hurt and hate along with Bailey when it was revealed that Sam may have been nothing more than a user and a traitor. I (and Bailey) had all these conflicting feelings for the guy throughout the book but just when I was about to give up on Sam, I find out he was just as emotionally afflicted and confused as Bailey. 

From the synopsis, Bailey's relationship with her sister Julie seemed like a huge part of Dirty Little Secret. I surmised that yes, Bailey felt desolate, but she never blamed Julie for her troubles--she always blamed her parents, which in my opinion was valid and understandable. I can't say anything more about Bailey and her interactions with Julie and her parents without spoiling the book, but I can say Bailey truly loved her sister and was capable of forgiveness. 

Reading the synopsis, I half expected Dirty Little Secret to be another cliché YA contemporary even knowing it's a Jennifer Echols book (she's not known for cliché story lines). But Dirty Little Secret wasn't at all that predictable or cliché. Instead Bailey's journey to a happier place was refreshingly complicated and, at times, surprising. The ending had a nice openended-ness and I liked where Bailey ended up.

Overall, Dirty Little Secret was a good read. After I got over the beginning (which, admittedly, hampered my overall impression of Jennifer's book) I did end up enjoying the story and characters. I recommend Dirty Little Secret to those who enjoy contemporary YA and Jennifer Echols fans--it's not my favorite of hers but it is worth picking up. 


  1. Awesome review. I'm reading it now and I agree, the first part has me iffy but its moving along great.

  2. This sounds like another great summer read, I love me some good old YA fiction, especially around this time of year, so it's definitely a book I'll bear in mind. :-)

  3. I'm a huge Jennifer Echols fan (Going Too Far was just amazing), but I'm not too sure about this ... it just seems like it wouldn't be my cup of tea. Hmmmm

  4. Thanks Shane! Hope you've enjoyed it. I really liked the ending of this one, especially after all the characters' complicated-ness.


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